Kathmandu, February 17:

Slum-dwellers in Shankh-amul have been witnessing a gradual improvement in their living standards.

Remittances from female members of their families, who have been working abroad, have made all the difference. Remittances have also brightened the prospects of their children.

Thirty-five-year-old, Catherine Gurung, was one of the first women from the area to try her luck in Kuwait in 2003. Gurung used to work as a street vendor and daily wage earner here, but her income was just enough to eke out a living.

She has been working as a domestic helper in Kuwait. “We have to work for 18 hours a day. Hard work pays better in foreign land than here.” Thanks to her earning, the Gurung family has been able to send its three children to school regularly.

Gurung, who is planning to leave for Kuwait next month, says she plans to start a business here after working in the foreign land for a few more years.

Following in her footsteps, many women from the slum area have embarked on foreign employment. Out of 105 households in Shankhamul, families of over 50 households have gone abroad for employment. Sanu Tamang, 51, a daily wage earner, is satisfied with the growth in her locality and hopes that the younger generation will not have to undergo all the troubles they went through. A school dropout, her youngest daughter has been working in Kuwait as a domestic helper for over two years. “Fulu came home last summer on vacation. We built a concrete wall from her earning.” Fulu repaid her loan in eight months.

“Many huts boast of concrete walls and colour television sets. We make sure that the youngsters do not drop out of school,” says Hira Lal Lama, a student of Bachelors’ of Rural Development at the Patan Campus and resident of the Shankhamul slum area.